Category Archives: Our Story

Kids With Special Needs Get Super Bowl Of Their Own

(This article contains excerpts from the article published in the RUSD News on January 29, 2015)

Photo Credit: RUSD
Photo Credit: RUSD

More than 200 special needs students from across the Riverside Unified School District celebrated Super Bowl Sunday at few days early on Wednesday, Jan. 28 as Poly High School hosted its second annual Super Bowl for Kids event.

This event gave students in kindergarten through sixth grades the opportunity experience the excitement of being part of a high school football team. As students arrived, they ran through a welcoming row of cheerleaders and through the Poly Bear tunnel. The Poly band played the fight song as each student got out on the field, grabbed a football and made a touchdown with help from members of the Poly football team.

And, just like a real game, colorful posters lined the fence near the stands, which were, of course, filled with crowds of cheering fans. Television news crews were on hand to capture all of the action.

Lisa Miller, Special Education Student Advisor at Poly, said the event benefits special needs students by letting them be part of an exciting school activity they might not otherwise be able to participate in. It also helps the high school students learn respect and acceptance of others.

“It puts a smile on my face. It’s just really heartwarming,” noted sophomore quarter back Alec Quintero. “Seeing these kids smile, it’s just a good feeling.”

“This speaks to the spirit of the Poly community and the RUSD community,” added Poly Principal, Dr. Michael Roe.

Miller said Poly is excited to keep the tradition of Super Bowl for Kids going and added that they likely will invite middle and high school students to participate next year.

Events like this truly demonstrates what makes Riverside such a unified city. We are a caring community that has compassion for all of its inhabitants, and engages with one another for a better life for all.

For the complete article, click here.

Riverside’s Little Choir That Could

(This article contains excerpts from the article written by Diane A. Rhodes and published in The Press Enterprise on January 18, 2015.)

Photo Credit: Stan Lim, The Press Enterprise
Photo Credit: Stan Lim, The Press Enterprise

Tenacity. Grit. Determination. Fortitude. The meaning of the words are clear, but how often are these traits demonstrated in real-life situations?

The Hillcrest Show Choir, at Riverside’s Hillcrest High School, is a group of about 100 singers that have sacrificed a lot – collectively and individually – to bring entertainment to others.

When the school opened in the fall of 2012, it did not have a choir. A group of students started a petition to create one. Twenty student signatures were required to have the class considered — all 20 are still part of the choir in its third year.

Getting a choir class approved was just the beginning. Another obstacle in bringing this fine arts course to the school was logistical. With a full slate of academic classes during the day and sports programs after that, there was no time it could be scheduled when interested, but active students could participate. They requested to have it held during “zero” period, from 6:28 to 7:25 a.m. Their persistence paid off and choir members continue to rise to the challenge each morning.

“We are not a show choir by industry standards where we go to competitions and festivals and such,” choir director Beth Schwandt said. “We have a bunch of kids who want to have music in their lives and go out into their community to put on shows.”

Schwandt said one of the Alvord School District’s core values is inclusiveness and she is proud to accomplish this with a choir that does not require an audition to join. As a result, she has attracted an eclectic melting pot of students that grows steadily with each school year. The choir’s inclusiveness is a great example of seizing our destiny’s unified city pillar, they demonstrate that we’re a caring community that has compassion for all of its inhabitants, and engages with one another for a better life for all. The long-standing diversity of the City provides a comfortable home for people from all backgrounds, cultures, and interests.

“They are a tribute to starting from nothing and fighting to create a culture of well-rounded musicians, athletes, thespians, scholars, volunteers, student leaders and friends,” Schwandt said. “My greatest joy is watching them walk up the stairs to class when it’s still pitch black and freezing cold outside and enjoying that hour together.

To read the full article, click here.

Riverside Youth Judo Club Competes At The Largest Judo Tournament

Riverside Youth Judo Club is lined up in the middle. (Largest group of competitors)
Riverside Youth Judo Club is lined up in the middle. (Largest group of competitors)

The Riverside Youth Judo Club, a project of the Police Activities League, competed at the largest National Judo Tournament in the U.S. Saturday, December 6, 2014.  There were 709 competitors from all over the country (as far as New York, South Carolina, Florida, and Hawaii), along with a total of 100 veteran, long-standing judo clubs.

The two-year old “fledgling” judo club brought the largest group of fighters to the event.  The club had 50 competitors, many of which had never previously competed.  They are a charitable, non-profit club and have many students (about 50%) who are economically disadvantaged and sponsored by the City and Police Activities League.  They had several generous contributions from members of the Riverside Police Department and the judo club who helped sponsor many of the competitors, covering their $50 entrance fee.  They were able to fundraise the rest with Candy and Apple sales.

Riverside Youth Judo Club finished the day ranked as the #3 Top-Winning club of the tournament (again, out of 100 judo clubs attending).  They were only outdone by the 2nd largest judo club in the Country (Goltz Club) and the historical and aggressive Hayastan club.  The club outperformed 96 Judo clubs represented at the National Tournament!

It’s great that youth involved in the Judo Club have an opportunity to compete and do well because of the generosity of a community that cares.  Sponsorships and hard work from the City and Police Activities League continually model Riverside as a unified city.

To read more about the Riverside Youth Judo Club, click here.

“Ideas Worth Spreading”: TEDx Riverside Speakers United By Ideas

(This article contains excerpts from article by Kurt Miller, published in the Press-Enterprise on October 16,2014.)

TEDx Riverside brought together 20 speakers for an eight-hour marathon of inspiration on Thursday at the Fox Performing Arts Center.   TED conferences are brought to communities throughout the world to encourage a convergence of technology, design and entertainment.  To promote education, TEDx Riverside gave 500 tickets to local high schools and filled the balcony with teenagers. It provided buses and lunch for students of Riverside Unified School District.  

“Everybody in this room is a lifelong learner,” Riverside Mayor Rusty Bailey declared in his opening remarks.

Nobel Prize winner and UC Riverside alumni Richard Schrock.  Photo credit: City of Riverside
Nobel Prize winner and UC Riverside alumni Richard Schrock. Photo credit: City of Riverside

Most of the speakers had Inland ties, but many have wide renown.  They included Nobel laureate Richard Schrock, who earned his bachelor’s degree from UC Riverside in 1967 and is now a chemistry professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Another UCR graduate was Steve Breen, a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner for editorial cartooning and a children’s author.

Among the more unusual presentations was performance artist Gregory Adamson creating a 6-by-6-foot painting of John Lennon in 11 minutes, accompanied by a medley of Lennon and Beatles songs. Photo credit: Fielding Buck
Among the more unusual presentations was performance artist Gregory Adamson creating a 6-by-6-foot painting of John Lennon in 11 minutes, accompanied by a medley of Lennon and Beatles songs. Photo credit: Fielding Buck

The TEDx Riverside event was a model of all the Seizing Our Destiny pillars.  Riversiders from of all ages and backgrounds attended the event on Thursday October, 16 as a unified city with a common interest to be entertained and inspired.  Although each speaker was completely different, they all seem to be on the same wavelength of maximizing personal potential and advocating intelligent growth in our community.  Riverside is a city that honors and builds on its assets to become a location of choice that catalyzes innovation in all forms, while enhancing quality of life.

To read more about TEDx Riverside, click here.

Regional Intelligence Report Highlights Positive News for Riverside

(Excerpts from this article were taken from the Beacon Economic Intelligence Report prepared by Beacon Economics and released on September 22, 2014.)

The seventh edition of the Beacon Economics Regional Intelligence Report continues to show positive growth in Riverside’s economy.  Unemployment is declining in the Inland Empire (8.5% as of July 2014) and the city has recovered nearly 9,700 jobs since a low point in March 2010.  There’s been growth in the Leisure and Hospitality sector increasing 7.5% from July 2013 to July 2014.  The new Riverside Convention Center, with 65,000 square feet of meeting space, should increase convention traffic into the City of Riverside, which should bring higher demand for hotel accommodations in and outside of the city.

Photo Credit: Beacon Economic Intelligent Report
Photo Credit: Beacon Economic Intelligent Report

Another area of growth was employment in the Education and Health sector which saw a 25% increase over the last year.  This sector is vital to the City of Riverside’s economy, constituting approximately 18% of total employment in the City.

The report highlights several areas of Seizing Our Destiny’s pillars including intelligent growth and location of choice.  Continuous positive economic numbers are important to gauge our economic recovery.  Reporting this data is also important so Riversiders know the hard work is paying off.

A few other highlights:

  • Taxable sales in the City have risen 11.5% over the past year.
  • Home sales increased 4.9% to 908 homes from the first quarter of 2014 to the second quarter of 2014.
  • Apartment vacancy rates in the City have fallen to 2.4%, a 25% decrease from a year ago.

For a complete copy of the report, click here.

CBU Makes List Of The Nation’s “Best Colleges” For 9th Straight Year

(This article contains excerpts from an article published on on September 9, 2014.)

U.S. News & World Report has included California Baptist University on it’s list of the nation’s “Best Colleges” for the ninth straight year.  CBU is ranked No. 38 in the West in the publication’s “Best Regional Universities” category for 2015 , up from No. 42 in the previous years rankings and No. 58 in 2013.

Photo credit:
Photo credit:

“This year’s ranking once again reflects the improvement in quality that California Baptist University continually strives to provide in order to enhance students’ overall experience,” said Dr. Ronald L. Ellis, CBU President.

California Baptist University’s progression on the list of “Best Regional Universities” is an outstanding representation of Seizing Our Destiny’s location of choice pillar.  Only through commitment and dedication can a great University continue to make academic strides and accelerate quality of education for all of the students. Riverside has increasingly become the location of choice for college bound individuals from all over the world.

“Best Colleges” rankings are featured in U.S. News& World Report each year to aid prospective students and their parents looking for the best academic values for their money.  Now in its 30th year, the annual comparative listing uses a quantitative system of 16 weighted indicators of academic excellence to rank universities.  Those indicators include: student selectivity; retention and graduation rate; assessment by peer institutions; faculty resources; financial resources and alumni giving.

To read the full article, click here.


Riverside Ranks #8 in Forbes’ Coolest Cities In America!

(This article contains excerpts from an article published on on August 8, 2014)

Forbes just released a list a of America’s “Coolest” Cities, and Riverside ranked #8.  How do you define “cool”?  According to Erin Carlyle, Forbes staff, “We sought to quantify it in terms of cities, partnering with Sperling’s BestPlaces to rank the 60 largest Metropolitan Statistical Areas and Metropolitan Divisions (cities and their surrounding suburbs, as defined by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget) based on six data points we weighted evenly.”  The six data points used to rank the cities include: arts and culture, reacreation, diversity, local eats, population age, and net migration.

Arts & Culture Index: 88, Recreation Index: 93, Diversity Index: 77.27, Local Eats: 72.2%, Population age 20-34: 29.7%, 2010 - 2013 Net Migration: 1.8%.  Photo credit:
Arts & Culture Index: 88, Recreation Index: 93, Diversity Index: 77.27, Local Eats: 72.2%, Population age 20-34: 29.7%, 2010 – 2013 Net Migration: 1.8%. Photo credit:

Although many might dispute that Riverside should be #1 on the list, being ranked one of the “coolest” cities in the country is an outstanding representation of our beloved city being a true location of choice.  Riverside has proven to be an attractive place for all types of residents, workers, professionals, entrepreneurs, and visitors.  Riversiders take pride in our beloved city with countless opportunities to be entertained, amazed, and inspired.     That is why the City of Riverside will continue to become a location of choice for people and organizations from allover the world.

To read the full article, click here.



Riverside Unified School District Teachers Go On Arctic Expedition

(This article contains excerpts from and the Arctic’s Edge Facebook page.)

After collecting samples from four ponds along Lindy Trail this morning, the team “chills” on the tundra. Photo credit: Arctic’s Edge

Eight Riverside Unified School District teachers went on an Arctic Expedition this summer. With an Earthwatch fellowship made possible through the Riverside Educational Enrichment Foundation (REEF).

The adventurers include: Stephanie  Niechayev from Arlington High School; JulieOlson from Chemawa Middle school; Melinda Lang from Madison Elementary School; Erin Garcia from University Heights Middle School; Suzanne Priebe from Earhart Middle School; Tammy Soper from Sierra Middle School; Carla Yawney from Kennedy Elementary School; and Kristin Kund from Poly High School.

Photo credit: Arctic’s Edge

The expedition team from RUSD exemplifies Seizing Our Destiny’s intelligent growth pillar.  Not only were they able to gather valuable research and data, they are now able to share the findings with their students. This experience gives students the opportunity to take their eyes out of the books briefly and connect with teachers in a fun and interesting way.

Photo credit: Arctic’s Edge

The teachers departed for their trip on July 9 and were gone through July 20. They travelled to Manitoba, Canada to measure evidence of global warming. The objective was to take water samples; assess the abundance of fish and frogs, and monitor the health of trees in the area. Teachers spent the mornings collecting data, worked in labs in the afternoons, and attended lectures in the evenings.

To read more, click here.